McTear’s Whisky Auctions – Buyers Beware!

by Oliver Klimek on February 17, 2012

Yesterday, former Malt Maniac Luc Timmermans shared a most disturbing experience he had with the 7th December whisky auction at McTear’s. Some of the bottles he bought were opened, a fact that was not mentioned in the lot descriptions and not shown on the lot pictures. But when asked to have the bottles returned, a McTear’s representative refused this because the bottles had been “sold as seen”. Instead, Luc was encouraged to resubmit the bottles to a future auction.

I am no legal expert, so I cannot say, if the law is on McTear’s side or not. I have my doubts, though. Three things have gone very wrong here:

1. Accepting opened bottles in an auction opens the doors for fraud

This is probably the worst part. The failure to refuse opened bottles submitted for an auction raises serious doubts about the trustworthiness of the company. Anything could be in these bottles: Cheap supermarket whisky, tea, apple juice, you name it. McTear’s as a dump for brown liquid of dubious origin? That’s the impression one might get.

2. Blatantly insufficient lot description

Misdescribing auction lots in such a way that broken seals are not mentioned is beyond belief. Is this just sloppiness or is it deliberate misleading of the buyers?

3. Customer service: Zero

Dealing with complaints in such a manner sheds a very sombre light on the business principles of McTear’s. Instead of taking the concerns of their customer seriously they are shabby enough to try to squeeze even more money out of these flawed bottles. Losing a customer in such a way is the worst thing that can happen to a business. And who knows if this customer is the only one who is lost. A simple refund would have been much cheaper because it would have avoided this collateral damage to the reputation of the company.

Update

17/02 – 9.30 GMT – Brian Clements, Managing Director at McTear’s just posted on the McTear’s Facebook page that the issue will be taken care of with a “satisfactory outcome for everyone”. The quick reaction has to be acknowlegdged. I dearly hope the company will also take precautions that ensure correct lot descriptions and flawed bottles not accepted for sale anymore in future actions.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Reggi Forbes February 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Over the past five years I have bought many various bottles of Whisky from McTears and I’ve never had any kind of problem. I’ve also been a big fan of your blog but I’m really annoyed that you would post something like this on your site without any real evidence.

I visit Mctears on a regular basis and I was worried when I heard about the story that seems to be spreading through the different social networks bad mouthing Mctears.
Today I called Mctears and I heard their side of the story and I believe this to be nothing more than a very bad piece of bad mouthing from another so called auction house based in Glasgow so that they can try and compete with Mctears. ( they have even changed their whisky auction date to the same as McTears)

Here’s some facts:
The person that picked up the bottles from McTears for Mr Timmerman was actually an employee of the so called auction house ” Mullberry Bank ”
All the various bitching on facebook, twitter e.t.c has also came from employees of ” Mullberry Bank”

I could go on with various other things that have been put on the net but to be honest that would only bring me down to their level, and I would not stoop that low.

Being a businessman myself i believe in fair competition between your competitors but when you start to get into this kind of bitching then I think you really need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror.

My loyalties will still remain with McTears and I will not be stepping into Mullberry again, to be honest I wasn’t really that impressed anyhow…

Reply

Oliver Klimek February 21, 2012 at 6:19 am

Of course I don’t know what really happened here, and neither do you. But the before/after pictures of Luc Timmermans were convincing enough for me to comment on this story.

Do you want to suggest that this incident was an act of sabotage, that either Luc Timmermans himself or the Mulberry Bank employee purposefully manipulated the bottles to damage the reputation of McTear’s? This is a very serious allegation, and if true this would of course have legal implications and should be prosecuted. But for this it needs a little more than just a diffuse feeling. The mere fact that you have not had any problems so far with McTear’s and that the person who picked up the bottles supposedly works for a competitor is a bit thin as evidence.

Other people have stated as well that they had problems with McTear’s regarding the state of purchased lots, so this does not look as if it’s a singlular case. Without solid evidence I would be very cautios to make such allegations in public.

Reply

Matt Stewart February 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

I would also note that McTears has not claimed that the bottles were sealed when they handed them over, which supports the facts as detailed by Mr Timmermans and Mr Klimek as above.

Reply

Benjamin Chen February 21, 2012 at 6:46 am

This is a very serious allegation that this is an act of sabotage designed to damage an auction house’s reputation, far more serious than a buyer who is upset that the items he bid for were either tampered with or misrepresented.

For me this is a case of an unhappy customer, who is well known in the whisky fraternity, voicing his dissatisfaction on the internet, and his significant reputation in the whisky world has led this going viral. In the age of New Media, these things will happen. To equate this with a theory to spoil an auction house’s credibility in order to elevate another is a totally different thing altogether.

And by the way, by putting Mulberry in direct comparison to McTear’s and making the clearly opinionated comment that you ‘will not be stepping into Mulberry again, to be honest I wasn’t really that impressed anyhow’ after stating what you feel was the real reason for this complaint is as much an accusation on the credibility of that company as the accusation you have made that they are spoiling McTear’s credibility. In short, you are doing the very same thing you are accusing them of doing.

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Thomas Tannenberger February 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

Without knowing Mr. Timmerman or McTear´s staff or the details of the case, but what actually was evident was the photos and the first reaction of McTear´s, so it was easy to condemn their habit without deeper insight, here a quote of their first answer:
´we will be unable to offer any refund for. We would be happy to enter the bottles into a future auction on your behalf. ´
as this is highly cynical and an impudance (instead of being humbly sorry and an excuse, they suggest to make profit again with the loss of the buyer, on a second auction run).
but their later way of dealing with it was professional it seems, so I will soon do my first bid there. no reason for McTear´s fans to be angry about anything, I haven´t seen any unreasonable bashing on fb.

Reply

Philip Abensur March 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

My concern is not whisky but painting. I bought a picture at McTear’s in February 2013. The way it went on fully confirms how McTear’s treates their customers.
The picture is a painting by Alexander Graham Munro. The description did not mention any default. When I received the lot, I had a bad surprise: there was a tear of about 16 cm…
I made a claim at McTear’s. I was answered that I should have asked for a condition report and that they only accept to re-offer the lot for sale without commission. No mention of shipping fees (the auction house is in Glasgow and I live in Paris…). The tear is hardly visible in the photo of the lot and can easily be taken for a simple line on the picture.
I consider the absence of mention of the tear as a fraud by McTear”s and this is unbelievable for a so-called respectable auction house. This should be known by future McTear’s customers.

Reply

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